Daddy Dressed Me

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Ava & Michael Gardner

Michael Gardner is a proud Father, self-taught sewist, lifelong crafter, and DIY enthusiast. Also Known As "Ava's Dad." He can be found exercising his creative abilities. He began his sewing journey in 2014. He wanted a way to bond with his daughter while looking for a new creative challenge, and he created Daddy Dressed Me by Michael Gardner. His mission is to help Ava build her self-esteem and establish confidence in herself and her abilities. He sews the clothes, and Ava models. He started sewing by thrifting women's clothing and refashioning the clothes for Ava. He learned through trial and error, watched tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest, and just started creating. 


Lisa Woolfork

Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English specializing in African American literature and culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, Black identity, trauma theory, and American slavery. She is the founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers on Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she actively resisted the white supremacist marches in her community, Charlottesville, Virginia. The city became a symbol of lethal resurging white supremacist violence. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the Community Engaged Scholars program. She believes in the power of creative liberation.


Insights from this episode:

  • The story of Daddy Dressed Me
  • What it means to Ava wearing her dad’s pieces
  • The transition from self-taught to following a pattern
  • Memories they have made together and documenting them through her dresses
  • Insights into fatherhood, fashion, and fun
  • How Michael navigates fatherhood
  • Details on Michael’s patchwork dress
  • Stories behind Michael’s creative work
  • Michael’s creative process


Quotes from the show:

  • I just wanted to deliver a beautiful dress for her, so she walked into her school confident to say her recital. So, we’re basically growing together, and that has been our journey for the nine years” —Michael Gardner in “Stitch Please”
  • What it means to wear dad’s creation: “To feel beautiful, but also happy that my daddy has taken the time to make me something to build up my confidence and my self-confidence. It was also really fun to wear because I literally set the room off” —Ava Gardner in “Stitch Please”
  • “When I started this journey, I had to figure out how to be a father because my father didn’t raise me. So, the thing that made more sense to me was to fuse my creativity into my fatherhood experience because that just felt very natural to me” —Michael Gardner in “Stitch Please”
  • “I’m often inspired by women’s fashion, but I have to keep in mind that I’m putting it on a child, so I have to make sure it feels appropriate for her” —Michael Gardner  in “Stitch Please”
  • “My advice would be just to create what you wanna create. There’s a lot of noise sometimes when it comes to social media and keeping up with other people; a lot of times I just have to block all that out and focus on what I want to do” —Michael Gardner in “Stitch Please”


Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork


Michael Gardner

Website: Daddy Dressed Me by Michael Gardner

Instagram: Daddy Dressed Me by Michael Gardner

Facebook: Daddy Dressed Me by Michael Gardner

Youtube: Daddy Dressed Me by Michael Gardner


This episode was produced and managed by Podcast Laundry.

Sign up for the Black Women Stitch quarterly newsletter

Check out our merch here
Leave a BACKSTITCH message and tell us about your favorite episode.
Join the Black Women Stitch Patreon
Check out our Amazon Store

Stay Connected:
YouTube: Black Women Stitch
Instagram: Black Women Stitch
Facebook: Stitch Please Podcast

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.